Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Boston Wine Expo: What You Should Taste

The annual Boston Wine Expo will be here in a few weeks, during President’s Day weekend, February 18 & 19, at the Seaport Hotel & World Trade Center. If you plan on attending the Grand Tasting, you'll be confronted with over 1800 wines, an overwhelming amount of wine. As you can only sample a tiny fraction of those wines, which should you choose to taste?

Earlier this month, I provided some Advice For Attending The Boston Wine Expo, twenty-five suggestions for making the most of your Expo experience. One of my suggestions was that you take some time and make a plan of which wine regions and/or specific wineries tables you want to visit and taste. Rather than waste your time wandering around the hall, you should have an idea of what you want to taste.

I also suggested that you take this opportunity to expand your palate and try different wines, hoping to find new wines to enjoy. With all the diversity of wines available, it makes little sense to spend your time drinking the same wines you drink at home all the time. Be willing to experiment and taste something different. Make the Expo an opportunity to explore the wide world of wine.

To assist in your plans, I'm going to provide you with my own suggestions for some wines you should check out. This list will include many of the tables where I will also sample wines as I too like to seek out new wines, to expand my own vinous horizons. On my previous visits to the Expo, I've often found some real treasures. For example, at least year's Expo, I tasted 13 wines which ended up on my Top Ten Wine lists of 2016.

There seems to be more diversity at the Expo this year than last, meaning you have the opportunity to taste plenty of more unique and interesting wines. I may add to this list in the days leading up to the Expo, as additional exhibitors and information is added to the Expo website. And if you have any questions, feel free to contact me.

Portuguese Wines
As I've often said, Portugal produces some of the best value wines in the world and if you want inexpensive, but delicious, wines then you need to explore Portugal. Portugal has lots of intriguing, indigenous grapes, making their wines unique in a number of ways. Their whites, reds, sparkling wines and Ports are compelling (and check out my post All About Portuguese Wines). Portugal also makes fine, higher end wines as well. Take some time to explore what Portugal has to offer, at the following tables: Burmester (Table 631-Ports), Caves Messias (Table 362), DFJ Wines (Table 360), Dona Maria Wines (Table 635), Esporao (Table 329), L&B Beverage (Table 265), Lemos & Van Zeller (Table 734), LGL Imports (261), Pico Wines (Table 653-Azores), Rui Madeira (633), and Vallegre (Wine & Port, Table 263).

Georgian Wines
The country not the state. Once part of the Soviet Union, Georgia might be the historical birthplace of wine production. It now produces some intriguing and delicious wines, including some made in a very traditional manner in qvevri, earthenware vessels. I've enjoyed a number of Georgian wines (check out my prior post Drink More Georgian Wine) and continue to seek out new ones too. Georgia has brought a large number of producers to the Expo this year and they are well worth checking out. Their tables include Bagrationi 1882 (Table 217), Besini (Table 219), Chateau Mukhrani (Table 224), Corus Imports (Tables 111, 113, 115), Danieli Winery (Table 226), Georgian Wine House (Table 121), Kakhuri Gvinis Marani (Table 129), Kartuli Vazi (Table 127), Qimerioni (Table 211), Shilda (Table 123), Tbilvino (Table 213), Tsereteli Wine & Spirits (Table 215), Vaziani Company (Table 222), and Wine Company Shumi (Table 228).

South African Wines 
South Africa also seems like it has increased its participation at the Expo this year. There are plenty of excellent wines coming from this country, from killer Chenin Blanc to hearty Syrah, and also the unique Pinotage. The quality of their wines has increased greatly in recent years and new regions in the country are producing plenty of fascinating wines. Check out wines from: Alvi's Drift (Table 220), Anthonij Rupert Wines (Table 227), Beau Joubert (Table 223), Blue Crane Imports (Table 218), Cape Dreams (Table 225), Kysela Perl et Fils (Tables 318/320), Meridian Prime (322, 324, 326), and Robinson & Sinclair (221).

Greek Wine
Greece is another country with a lengthy history of wine yet not enough consumers know about their fascinating wines. There are plenty of indigenous grapes in Greece, and they make a full gamut of wines, whites, reds, sparkling, dessert and more. I've found plenty of excellent Greek wine at prior Expos and check out my article, Ten Reasons To Drink Greek Wine. Though there appears to be only two tables of Greek wines at this Expo, that could change, but currently take note of Greek Wine Cellars (Table 720) and Lakonia Greek (Table 201).

Diversity of wine is great, and you'll find some wines at the Expo from countries less commonly found in local wine stores and restaurants. This is your opportunity to check out more unique wines from different wine regions. I've had some wines from these regions and found some tasty selections and strongly recommend you give them a chance. I'll definitely be tasting wines at these tables to see what I might find.

Bulgarian Wines:
Check out National Vine & Wine Chamber (Tables 750, 752, 754, & 756).

Israeli Wines
Check out Israel Wine Producers Association (Table 317) and King David Wines (Table 513).

Lebanese Wines
Check out Ixsir (Table 354).

Luxembourg Wines
Check out Ansay International (Table 623).

Romanian Wines
Check out Ville Budureasca (Table 567).

There are also some individual producers and tables you should check out, where you will find some delicious wines, of various price points. 

Alsatian Wines
The French region of Alsace produces some excellent wines, especially white wines and Crémant d'Alsace, but they also produce a small amount of red wines. Check out Fine Terroir Selections (Table 356), which will have at least a Pinot Noir and Riesling.

Bodegas Hidalgo La Gitana (Table 511)
This is one of the best Sherry bodegas in Spain, and I was fortunate to visit the winery back in 2010. I also tasted their wines at last year's Expo and you can read about my favorite wines from that tasting. This year, at Table 511, it seems they will be showcasing their superb Sherries, including La Gitana Manzanilla, Wellington Palo Cortado, Faralon Oloroso, and Triana PX. Hopefully, they will also be sampling some of their fine, non-Sherry wines.

New Mexico
You've probably never had wines from New Mexico before, and I don't think I've ever seen wines from that state on local wine store shelves. So I'm excited to check out these wines too, from Southwest Wines (Table 563).

Brooklyn Oenology
Last year, I found some quite enjoyable wines from this New York winery, which will be offering their wines for sample at Table 663. Check out my prior review of their wines. Seek out their Orange wines as well as their Cabernet Franc.

90+ Cellars
A Boston company, 90+ Cellars sources wines from all over the world, offering excellent bargains on a full array of wines. They will have plenty of good wines available for tasting, as always, at the Expo at Table 437. This year, especially keep an eye out for Magic Door La Cle de la Femme Champagne, an excellent bargain and delicious Champagne which is produced with a high percentage of Pinot Meunier. I always stop by this table to see what new wines they have to offer.

Alessio Vermouth
Not everyone realizes that Vermouth is actually a wine, albeit it is fortified like Port. Vermouth is also much more diverse than many realize, and sampling its variations can be fascinating. Check out Table 264 and maybe you can taste their Bianco, Rosso and Chinato varieties. Vermouth is great in cocktails, but you can also drink it on its own, or with maybe a little tonic or soda water.

It also appears that the Wine Expo will be presenting some Spirits for sampling this year, and here are a couple tables you should pay attention.

BarSol Pisco
At Table 165, you'll be able to taste some Peruvian Pisco, a type of brandy, which you might have had before in a Pisco Sour cocktail. I enjoy Pisco and recommend you check it out, though you might want to wait to taste it until later in the day because of its higher alcohol content.

At Table 161, you'll have the chance to taste Glenrothes Scotch and maybe the famous Luxardo cherries. I've tasted much of the Glenrothes portfolio and found much to enjoy. And you can't go wrong with the cherries too.

With everything you'll be drinking, you'll probably want to eat something too, to help soak up some of the alcohol in your belly. There will be numerous food tables at the Expo, from vendors to restaurants, offering free samples. Let me provide a few recommendations for the food as well.

McCrea's Candies
They makes a variety of delicious caramels and I've been enjoying their caramels since 2012. They are a local company and have been regularly exhibiting at the Expo. Last year, they were involved in my favorite food & wine pairing of the Expo. I enjoyed their Black Lava Sea Salt Caramel with the Bodegas Hidalgo-La Gitana Alameda Cream Sherry. The sweet and salty caramel went well with the complex flavors of the Sherry, including its nutty, briny and caramel notes. Visit them at Table 345 and sample some of their compelling caramels.

Cabot Creamery Coop.
Who doesn't love cheese? And cheese and wine go so well together. Stop by Table 820 and sample their various cheeses, and maybe butter and sour cream. Bring your glass of wine and check out how different wines pair with the various cheese.

More Cheese 
At Table 719, you can taste delicious cheese from Finlandia. Check out they Swiss Cheese, Keisarinna Cheese and butter. At Table 838, you'll find the wonderful Irish cheeses of Kerry Gold.

Smackadoodles Cinnamon Rolls
I've never had these cinnamon rolls but they sound intriguing, a diverse mix of flavored cinnamon rolls. So I'll be stopping by Table 239 to check them out. A Boston Cream Pie Cinnamon Roll? Certainly unique.

I hope you find my suggestions helpful in making your plans for the Boston Wine Expo. Expand your palate and seek out wines, spirits and foods new to you!


Sue said...

Thanks for the useful suggestions!

Sue said...

For several years, I just went to the Portuguese wine producers - so many and such good values!More recently we've been fortunate to have more diversity and wines from Eastern Europe like the Georgian wines, Israel, South Africa and others add a lot.

JTL said...

Wish I saw this list before going on Saturday! Definitely will keep a lookout for next year's advice